Jan 1 2014, 8:05pm CST | by Poch de la Rosa
"After discussing all options with my famiily and the coaching staff, I have decided to forgo my senior season and declare for the NFL draft. This was an extremely difficult decision for me. I can't express how much my time at Louisville has meant to me.
"These past three days have allowed me to mature as a person and leave the university as a better person and with a degree in hand, which was one of my goals. I will cherish every moment on the field and off the field, and every bond that I built.
"I will forever represent the university with the utmost pride and respect. I want to extend a special thank you to my teammates, Tom Jurich, all the academic staff and professors, the coaching staff, support staff, students and the Cardinals' fan base."
Bridgwater also said he barely knew the University of Louisville when he decided to commit to its football program, but it was a decision that ultimately paid off for him. He said,"I didn't know much about Louisville when I made the decision to attend, but in the end, it was one of the best decisions I could have ever made."
According to Jeff Greer of The Louisville Courier-Journal, Bridgwater planned to mull over his decision in the aftermath of the Cardinals' 36-9 Russell Athletic Bowl victory over the Miami Hurricanes, where he went 35 of 45 for 447 yards and three touchdowns, per ESPN stats.
He went back to his native city of Miami "to discuss his options with his mother and other close mentors and friends," Greer continues.
Greer also points out the Houston Texans, who have the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, are in a good position to select Bridgewater, as he is a top candidate to go No. 1. Houston is in dire need of a capable play caller after its dreadful 2-14 2013 NFL season.
In addition, ESPN's Brett McMurphy cites his colleague Todd McShay, who rates Bridgewater -- who graduated in December with a degree in sports administration -- as the best quarterback prospect among the 2014 draft aspirants. He is "the first member of his family to graduate from college," McMurphy adds.
With Bridgewater playing under center, Louisville tied a school record with 12 wins in the 2013 NCAA season. He threw for 3,970 yards and 31 touchdowns. He suited up in 39 games all in all for the Cardinals, finishing with 9,817 yards and 72 touchdowns -- finishing third in school history in both statistical categories, according to the Cardinals' official athletics website.
Among the 21-year-old Bridgewater's collegiate accolades include 2011 Big East Rookie of the Year, 2011 Freshman All-American, 2012 Big East Offensive Player of the Year and 2012 Sugar Bowl MVP.
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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